With its policy paper the Senate Commission on Agro-ecosystemResearch of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft(DFG) summarizes potential benefits of basic researchfor the sustainable intensification of crop production. Agro-ecosystems critically contribute to fulfilling the need forincreasing food and fiber production, diminishing resourcedepletion as well as counteracting biodiversity loss and climate change. Yield demands that are needed to ensure the food supply predicted for the year 2050 can only be achieved by scientific progress that allows the intensive yet environmentally friendly production of plant biomass (Figure ), (FAO, 2011; Dobermann und Nelson,2013; Rayet al., 2013). Sustainable intensification requires a scientific realignment that allows for broadening the scope of agricultural research. The productivity of farming systems should be evaluated with regard to their efficiency (input-output relation). In addition, the spatial and temporal variability of these systems must be considered by addressing local conditions, the landscape context and climate change. With respect to ecosystem services, new production strategies must be developed that take all aspects of landscape and regional complexity as well as socio-economic conditions and agricultural policy into account.
Against this background, the Senate Commission onAgro-ecosystem Research proposes three priority areas of interdisciplinary research on resource efficient intensification of crop production:
(1) Exploiting the biological potential of the individualcrop plants for an environmentally friendly intensificationin an ecosystem approach
(2) Exploring sustainable intensification of crop production within a landscape context
(3) Taking full account of the economic, social and politicaldimensions of sustainable intensification of crop production